With close to 3,000 members, the Pay it Forward St. Charles Parish Facebook page is a successful connection for people who need things – and there’s always someone in need.
“Everything is free,” said Claire Landry of Des Allemands. “People post items and they have a pickup time and go pick it up at the house or place they want to meet.”
Landry is co-administrator with the page’s founder Lisa Bilich, who envisioned a way to let people gift items. It started when Bilich had an appliance she was going to toss out, but instead wondered if someone needed it and started the page. Soon after, she invited Landry to help manage it.
Up for nearly five years, page activity is growing.
“We get requests everyday,” said Landry of a group limited to people who live or work in St. Charles Parish.
And the posts are increasing, too, especially with the approaching holidays. As people clean out closets, they also post Christmas decorations and items that can serve as gifts.
In the last 28 days, 300 posts were made on Pay it Forward, a number of items that Landry said are often claimed within minutes. Most popular days are Saturdays and Sundays.
“A lot of people drop off things that they don’t have the time to post it, and bring it to Lisa or myself to post it,” she said. “We’ve had really nice things and some don’t want their names attached to it … they just want to give it to someone.”
When they get items directly, they try to place them with people who need them.
When an item is posted, it goes to the one who claims it first and, if given back, goes to the next claimer.
“Some people give away food baskets, refrigerators, washers, dryers or baby items,” Landry said. “It helps people get rid of stuff and people in need receive. If you have a gently used sofa you want to get rid of, people will go and get it. It helps the person donating as much as it helps the person receiving.”
Landry estimated they’ve handled nearly 10,000 items since the page was established. Most recent requests are coming from people asking for water heaters, but that’s a hard to find item.
“We appreciate St. Charles Parish residents for being willing to give items that people need,” she added.
There have been a few squabbles over items, but it’s her job to resolve them and every dispute has been handled reasonably.
And it’s surely understandable considering some of those items have even included furniture, football tickets and services.
“I’ve been blessed and I’ve helped a lot of people find their need through that page,” Landry said. “This is what I tell people … that Pay it Forward is not just for needy people, it’s for everyone.”